Snohomish City Mall/City Hall Building

1009 First Street

Snohomish City Mall, former theater and bank to the left, ca.1980, Snohomish Historical Society
Elevation, excerpt from the blue-line drafting, 1926, City of Snohomish Archives
Moving from the original City Hall, November 28.1984, Snohomish County Tribune

The 1920s is when Snohomish became a modern city. Residents approved two bond issues totaling $17,000 to build a new fire station and its first City Hall, which included a police station on First Street. A letter to the editor, printed on the front page of the Tribune’s June 17, 1926, issue, spoke for the community: “… it’s a shame for a town of this size not to have a hall of its own. Snohomish is the oldest town north of Seattle, with finely improved farms all around it and yet it has no hall of its own.”

City Hall was built on a First Street lot the city owned in the mission style architecture, a popular style of the day. By July 1927, the City Clerk Thistlewaite and City Treasurer Vestal were open for business in the new building and were “well pleased with their new quarters,” reported the Tribune.

On a 2011 tour with the daughter of the first city marshal to occupy the new station, O. D. Morse, Beth Greenlee, pointed out, “the layout of the building is unchanged,” as we entered through the double doors. “On the left was the City Clerk and Waterworks office. Across the hall was Mr. Knapp’s office, who was the city attorney. Straight ahead was where the council met, and the Police Court.”

In 1984, when the former Post Office became the new City Hall (tour stop No. 1), Larry McGee, “an unabashed booster of Snohomish’s original downtown,” bought this building for the minimum price of $100,000 set by the city council. McGee, owner of First Bank Antiques, two doors east in the 1907 bank building, changed the sign from Hall to Mall and opened the two-floor structure as a mini-mall with an apartment in the former jail cell, though the bars were removed long ago.

“Its size made it a difficult building to rent,” McGee explained in a 2022 interview, “plus the long hallway was not inviting to people looking in from the street, but it worked for small businesses with a strong following.” He used the basement, the former police station armory, to run his paddlewheel river cruise concession called the River Queen, which offered lunch and dinner cruises on the Snohomish River for four years until it “sunk in red ink,” reported The Seattle Times on June 15, 1992.

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